When You’re Janis, Not Stevie

On social media I will never be the “hot” wife.

In our enlightened century where being “real” is tantamount to sainthood, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to be in one of those Dove ads where you see real women in their underwear. (Meaning that in 2018 a size two woman with perfect proportions isn’t a real woman?)

Hasn’t society always tried to change the perception of beauty through the externals? Powdered wigs, an exposed bosom; a hoop skirt, short skirt, Boho shirt; some of these are considered works of art or an act of civil protest. Others, like a pair of Levis, a plain necessity. It’s easier to pan for gold on your knees when you’re wearing durable pants.

When it comes to humans and beauty, let’s face it, it really is about the face.

All women are real women, but not all women are beautiful women.
Did I just say this out loud?

When you look at a woman who looks like Elizabeth Taylor…
Come. On.
This is astounding beauty.
This is rare beauty. It’s one of a kind. Like Victoria Falls or the Grand Canyon.

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What if you’re not a rare beauty Elizabeth Taylor?
What if your beauty isn’t like Stevie’s, but is more plain like Janis’?

Image result for stevie nicksImage result for janis joplin
(image: creative independent)      (image: last.fm)

I don’t know about Stevie, but I read once that a sinister darkness entangled itself around Janis’ heart because she knew she wasn’t beautiful. She had been swept up into the lie that a certain kind of beauty was all that mattered.

Yes, there is the rare beauty reflected in the faces of Elizabeth Taylor and Stevie Nicks and it is a marvel.

Then there is the beauty that hides in plain sight; that one has to go looking for to see. Goes beneath surface and skin. Bores deeper into soul and spirit.

Janis missed that.
She believed for beauty to be valued it had to be obvious.
She didn’t know that the beauty of a woman is a mystery.

Sometimes a woman’s beauty dazzles like a sun-soaked sky.

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Other times her beauty can be found shimmering in the misty places.

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Both fashioned and sculpted in the image of God.
Both exquisite in ways that cannot be explained.
Both veiled in mystery.

We’ve all met a woman, and yes, a man, who on the Beauty Richter scale wouldn’t rock the world in any cataclysmic way. And yet, there is something about this person, something a finger cannot touch, something stunning that comes forth that cannot be described. We know in some unexplained way we are seeing beauty at its most mysterious.

When a man posts a picture on social media with the label “my hot wife,” could it be that he is exposing her in such a way that takes away her mystery? Has he forgotten that the word “hot” not that long ago was used to describe a woman’s sexual nature? Instead of sharing how pretty she is, could he be exposing to the world how intimately desirable she is? Could he be sharing with everyone what is meant for him alone?

I daresay in a flesh and blood exchange, where humans congregate shoulder to shoulder, a man would be considered honoring his beloved if he uttered the words, “Let me introduce you to my beautiful wife…” I daresay, in that same situation if he uttered the words, “Let me introduce you to my hot wife,” his beloved, and those around her, would sense no honor at all.

Perhaps I am making mountains where there needn’t be.
Perhaps I, like Janis, still struggle with the lack of obvious beauty.

I was forty two years old when I got braces on my teeth. I spent the better part of those years not smiling for the camera. Like Janis, I knew I wasn’t a dazzler and I believed my crooked teeth clouded even the tiniest shimmer. Arriving home after spending the afternoon receiving a mouthful of metal, my husband was in the dining room working on the computer. He wheeled his chair away from the screen. “Let me see.”

I took a breath.
I pulled my swollen lips over my teeth.
And then I smiled.

Laughter blasted from my husband and he promptly fell out of his chair.

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I ran into the bathroom, grabbed a comb and parted my hair down the middle, pinning the sides back with two of my daughter’s hair clips. Giggling, I came out of the bathroom, put on some reading glasses and declared, “Take a picture of this!”

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My husband pulled the camera out of the drawer, snapped the button and then… he embraced me.

He pulled me into his arms, his breath, his laughter, fanning through my hair,and he told me I was beautiful. The crazy part is, I believed him.

I believed him, not because I am beautiful, but because I am his.

I knew in that moment I belonged to him and him alone and not to a world who proclaims the obvious, platforms the obvious, values the obvious.

For many of us, we think beauty leads to being wanted. Like Janis, our narrative becomes if I feel alone, then I must not be beautiful. 

Yet when we know we belong and were created in loveliness and mystery in the image of the One who is the loveliest of all, then we can embrace the beauty that we are, whether we dazzle or whether we shimmer.

We hear God’s words:

You are like a dove that hides in the crevice of a rock. Let me see your lovely face and hear your enchanting voice – Song of Solomon.

I will never be the “hot wife.”

Whatever beauty I possess or whatever beauty I lack does not determine how much I am loved because I belong to the One who dazzles the brightest like the Morning Star and shimmers in the hidden places like the rose of Sharon.

Beauty doesn’t guarantee belonging, but belonging guarantees beauty.

This is why not all real women are beautiful women. It is not until a woman knows under the surface of her own skin she belongs to someone greater than herself that she discovers she is truly beautiful.

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So…after writing this piece, I stumbled upon this timely little blurb. I do not know what the entire content of this movie will be, so I am not advocating for the film, per se.  I most likely will not see it as I tend to favor historical dramas and romantic comedies where I don’t have to scrub my brain afterward. However, upon viewing this trailer, I think it captures the essence of what so many women are struggling with and uses humor to speak a very real truth.

Shimmer on.

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